Activity Introduction

Quick summary: This STEM activity provides children with a tactile exploration of leaves. Leaf Investigators is a great way to introduce STEM at your early learning centre. The activity offers nature-based learning opportunities, using a guided approach. Children are engaged in a nature hunt for leaves, followed by a scientific investigation focused on discovering what makes a leaf grow. They explore the texture of leaves using rubbings and leaf imprinting and describe their observations.

We’ve taken elements of this lesson and adapted them for remote learning. You can find this activity here.

Learning intentions:

  • Children will learn about leaves in nature
  • Children will make connections about how leaves grow and change
  • Children understand how leaves contribute to nature
  • Children can identify different parts of a leaf – stem, leaf, veins
  • Children understand that leaves come in different shapes and sizes.

21st century skills:


EYLF Learning Outcome


Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world

4. Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment.

Outcome 4: Children are involved and confident learners

1. Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity.

2. Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, enquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating.

4. Children resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials.

Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators

1. Children interact verbally and non verbally with others for a range of purposes.

3. Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media.


Topic: STEM/STEAM, Outdoor Learning

Unit of work: STEM Challenges — Early Learning

Time required: 55 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium level of scaffolding. Early years educators are to set up the experience and assist children during the STEM session. Two or more activity stations need to be set up and gentle assistance provided as children engage with the activities.

Resources required:

  • Leaves collected from nature or found at the early learning centre.
  • Magnifying glasses (if possible).
  • Rulers.
  • Drawing materials (crayons).
  • Paper for leaf rubbings.
  • Playdough for extended sensory imprinting.

Related Professional Development: Introduction to Early Learning STEM

Keywords: Early years, early learning, STEAM, STEM, hands on, nature-based, exploration, science, nature, leaves, investigate.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will... 

  • … learn about leaves in nature.
  • … make connections about how leaves grow and change.
  • … explain how leaves contribute to nature.

Success criteria: Students can...

  • … identify a leaf.
  • … assess if the leaf is a living thing.
  • … see different parts of the leaf - stem, leaf, veins.
  • … measure and analyse the leaf based on size and shape.
  • … create 2D (and 3D) representations of a leaf.

Teacher content information: Nature-based experiences offer the opportunity for a range of learning experiences in an early learning classroom. In this lesson, you and/or the children will be bringing artefacts from nature into the classroom. Children will be exploring leaves as a nature-based activity using a STEM learning framework. This framework provides a rich learning experience for the children as they explore science, texture and natural systems. For this lesson, you will require a diverse range of leaves. The wider the

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